Skewel Daze

At the age of four, a child I knew drew extraordinarily vibrant, imaginative trees. Crayon, chalk, colored pens, and silly putty were all useful. These trees were remarkable in how clearly they showed the bulbous lobes and branchy veins of individual leaves in a kind of cubist, all-the-way-around view that would have delighted Picasso. Meticulous observation of real trees, and a certain daring that is characteristic of four-year-olds, combined to produce these striking artworks.

By the age of six, this child had gone through a year of first grade and had begun drawing lollipop trees just like the other kids. Lollipop trees consist of a single blob of green, representing the general mass of leaves with details obliterated, stuck up on top of a brown stick, representing the tree trunk. Not the sort of place real frogs would live.

Another child, age eight, complained of the day her third-grade teacher pretended that negative numbers don’t exist. While the class was doing subtraction tables, a boy asked, “What’s 3 take-away 5?” and the teacher insisted that there is no such thing. The girl objected, “But everyone knows it’s minus 2!” The schoolteacher said, “This is the third grade and you’re not supposed to know about those things!”

I later asked this girl, “What does a minus number mean to you?” She said without hesitating, “It’s like looking at your reflection in a pool of water. It goes as far down as you go up.” This is original mind in action, the purest form of Zen.

Stephen Nachmanovitch – Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art

Pic: Womb by Snuffkin (CC3-N-NDW)

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Social Fabric Manifesto Part 1

Pic by Daniel Oines

All of the things we most urgently need now are not going to come unless us humans get past the repulsion we feel for each other — a repulsion which has been encouraged by the rich and middle classes. It is very urgent that we understand that humans are meant to join together on a basic level that is not the commonly accepted categories of individuals and nuclear families. We are more manageable if we stay in those categories with a dose of patriotism thrown in for good measure but we need more.

We need each other in a different way. It’s a much more diverse way and it’s not as friends and it’s not as families. It’s as something altogether different that was lost a few decades ago.

It is a category that has been made redundant, one where we are dependent upon the people around us. This is not a requirement at the end of capitalism. The food we eat, the furniture we sit on, the devices we use, the jobs we do — so often all of these things are made by other people. This is an anomaly in our history. And it’s had the effect of alienating us further from those around us.

Life is richer when you are forced to know your neighbours. But harder. It complicates matters when the world out the door is not easily made into an echo chamber of our own preferences where we want to get around us everyone who is just like us. You don’t need to like Madison or Imran down the road. If you have nothing to do with them you maybe don’t even like them anyway, for some unfathomable reason. So how would it be better if you had to spend more time with Imran because you lived in a community where you bought stuff from him and/or your kids are in school together and/or you’re on a few council committees together because you’re now living in some anarcho-syndicalist world where local communities rule themselves (this is my daydream, you see :))

Sure, Imran might shit you even more than he does now even though you don’t know him. If forced to spend time with him it could go a few ways. You could discover that your capitalist-fuelled distrust was based on nothing except your own alienated anxiety. Imran and you might have a few things in common. But he might not be your kind of person. He might actually shit you in the flesh rather than just shit you in your biases. Or you might like him. Or a combo of these.

What you would discover, if you had to spend time with Imran in a few different places, would be a richer understanding of what it means to interact with people you don’t have a friendship with, or a family connection with, or even necessarily an acquaintance connection with, but a shared community connection with, especially if the concept of community was much broader than it is now.

Especially if the term community was not something just plastered on the front of the Bendigo Bank but was something you automatically belonged to, which gave you things like a sense of belonging, a better job you could have ever hoped for under globalised capitalism. If it gave you your food and your furniture. Maybe even Imran made your dining table.

Or maybe you made Imran his. How would you feel if you and Imran had nothing in common, and you didn’t like him much, but you had made him his dining table and you knew he sat at it every night with his family and ate?

It would surely soften you a little around the edges when it came to being able to think about Imran not with contempt and dismissal because under capitalism there is no need for you both to have any kind of connection at all. But you would think of him differently. Not as a peripheral to you but as a member of your community. And if your view of Imran had expanded even a little so you could actually see him as a human living in your community, maybe even selling you some of his pomegranates, then everyone else would also be seeing you in broader terms.

And isn’t this partially why we are paranoid when we see Madison and Imran now? We know that we are just as indispensable to them as they are to us. Non-entities. Certainly not the multi-faceted, complex, very fragile beings we know ourselves to be but something else. Something flatter. We know that our neighbours have learners to see not with the eyes of a fellow human sharing a community, but in a blinkered way now, the way of the neoliberalist.

It wouldn’t be surprising if all the elites of the world were quite all right with this level of depletion experienced by humans round the world. They must feel how weakened we are, how held in place by the hefty, but brittle, status quo. They seem to be quite happy to let it crumble, to let authoritarianism rise around the world while people go hungry on multiple levels that we are not evolved to cope with, and certainly when we know that we do not live in a world that is dependable but one which has sliced and diced us into fragmented bits who lack the strength to make a change.

That strength lies elsewhere and we must move towards it. We don’t even have to like each other. But we sure do need each other.

The Gloaming

A ship hulks to port
beyond the marina boats.
Waterlight shines
in long drawn lines.
City starts glinting.

Everything lulled & lapping
Me, I’m an heirloom
a 14-sided hologram
a body of water.
World stops moving.

Everything lulled & lapping
Jesus resurrecting
Enemies bridging
Elvis singing
Beyond becoming.

I’m not roaming
the stretched-out seconds.
Soul has slowed hovering
over the thin place.

Day drags night over.

Pic – by Versageek CC-by-2A

The Role of Our Money System in Hurting the Earth

Photo by Engin Akyurt from Pexels

 

It’s not uncommon to watch the traditional TV nightly news and see the disconnect in action.

During the news, there might be an earth-related doomsday report on the way our earth is changing. Then the news report will end and the finance report will begin and never once will the finance reporter make any actually-helpful editorialising about the connection between the two.

The awful reality is that the way we do money is contributing directly to the weight we are asking the earth to bear. It is contributing directly to the destruction of forests. It means climate change plus extra destruction and decimation because our money system creates rich people and poor people who will do what they can for a buck.

Finance is beyond batshit-boring. Economics is so convoluted now that you gotta wonder how much of it even economists understand. But at the most fundamental level, we have a bizarre quirk in the system of doing money which causes flow-on effects all the way down the line of production and consumption and relentless depletion of our earth, and which stops us from being able to practice the kind of responsible stewardship that ensures the best chance foe our great grandchildren to have a reasonable quality of life before Thunderdome.

Of course, things might flip by then. Life has far more intelligence than the nightly news will give her credit for. The earth will will find ways around the hindrances we put in her path.

The way we do money is seriously whack. It’s created out of thin air, then we are charged to use it. Which means that we are in debt all the time. Which means that we all have to bust a gut, in everything we do, to turn a greater profit in order to pay back the debt. It puts a pressure on the system all the way through and one of the end results is greater depletion of our earth’s resources. Kinda like cancer ravaging and weakening and eventually killing a human body. That’s the effect our money-creating system is having on us and on the earth.

It wasn’t always this way. Like everything else, the way we do money now is worn out and dying and has been stripped of any meaning beyond profit-making for the greedy, severely alienated few.

It’s not a coincidence that two of the world’s largest religions, Christianity and Islam, both have very harsh words to say about doing money this way. Usury, it used to be called. It was forbidden because they knew what we can’t easily see when it’s something we’ve grown up in – that accepting the charging of interest makes you a slave to those who are charging it.

Money was once thought of very differently than it is now. These days we see it as something to own, and the more of it you have, the more security you have. But in earlier times or in other cultures, you didn’t need to have security against the culture you lived in. Money was something used to keep everyone rolling. It was like the cartilege in a society’s joints, the grease in people’s wheels so they could roll together. Less insane individualistic chest-beating using money to show what a big man you are because you have no sociery to rely on anymore now the ideologists and the greedy and the pathological have been happy to dismantle it on us. No, in other times money has been seen as a much broader, less self-serving concept. In cultures different to our own, money is used as a gift, a more win/win way. And there was no charging people for its use, making us buy it, for fuck’s sake. Such a conception is a sign of a society that has died, and that a new one fit for all of its inhabitants needs to be born.

Further Reading:

Beyond Greed and Scarcity – Yes Magazine

Shocking Ignorance from MPs who Don’t Know Where Money Comes From – Originally from CityAM, reprinted on Journal Worker

Chaos – Living in the Land of the Not-Yet-Arrived

Chaos is quite exhausting, is it not?

Some days I quite believe we are doomed, and I feel it right down to the roots. Other days I quite believe we are at the beginning of a new version of everything, and I feel that right to the roots, but whatever the new version is is all so hazy and not-yet that there is nothing to hang onto except the fact that we are all facing it apart when we are in truth together.

I think I am correct on both counts.

We are stretched out, in heaven and in hell all at once, at the end and at the beginning, stretched in both directions and look at us all snap.

You know, I’m pretty much unemployable at this point in time. Approaching 50, chronically ill, with the job I’ve been doing (transcription) almost dead to technology. I’m unable to commit to anything. It is absolutely terrifying.

I scan the ads looking for freelance writers and I can’t bring myself to apply for any of them. They all feel like they are ads asking for people to write for dead companies attached to the dead empire trying to get people to buy shit they don’t need and none of it matters and it’s all repulsive. This is unhelpful an attitude. I’m a grown woman, with a pretty decent individuation going on, and I can’t bring myself to do it, to insert myself into a position as a cog for the wheel.

This idealism is unhelpful and irresponsible. I trawl my way through hundreds of writing jobs and feel I can’t do any of them with a right conscience and it’s all dead, it’s all dying, I don’t want to work for the zombie.

I feel like everything I think and feel and sense and intuit is geared toward the next version of things. As if there is a new land coming to the top of the Faraway Tree and I belong to that, and in the meantime I’m useless, wandering around not being able to find anything for myself to do except to hug the Saucepan Man and get drenched in Dame Washalot’s washing water and feel like a useless shit. I wait poking my head up above the ladder to smell if it’s here yet and the wind swirls a little differently hp there, and it feels different as if the molecules rub together differently, but still there’s nothing up there except the not-yet land and swirling clouds.

Chaos is exhausting and terrifying. But chaos is also “the fruitful womb”. It is wild, uncomfortably deep and alive, and we are right in the eye of its storm together.

Photo by Marcos Flores from Pexels

Consolation

Some days
getting off the couch
means stepping
off the cliff.

How many times
must we practise
this walk
off into thin air
falling into trust?

Seems the more love
the more death,
the more illumining
the more spaced the crumbs
leading into the middle
of a densely packed
black forest.

But still,
console your heart
with this:
when the night is
at its blackest
while you sleep
the sun is rising
beneath your bed.

Photo by Simon Robben from Pexels